Model Cars Posts

10 More Off-The-Beaten-Path, Obscure, Odd Model Car Brands

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

Over the past couple of years, we have shared some brands of diecast vehicles that are off the beaten path, obscure, or just plain odd. Some of them are offshoots of famous brands, some of from other countries and never widely distributed worldwide, and some disappeared quickly for various reasons. Here’s another batch of Odd Model Car Brands that fit all of those categories and then some…

Tonka Totes

Tonka Totes Dune BuggyWhen you think of Tonka, you usually think of indestructible metal vehicles like the Mighty Dump truck. But in 1971, Tonka tried something completely different. The Totes line were all plastic, including flexible axles that were unfortunately a bit too soft. Despite the neat designs and sparkly plastic, kids were disappointed when the wheels broke off, so the line was discontinued after only a couple years.

Weird Wheels

structo weird wheels dune buggyNot to be outdone by Tonka, Structo, another brand known for rugged metal vehicles got weird in 1971. Their Weird Wheels vehicles each featured one axle with two wheels. The bodies were designed with most of the weight underneath the axle, so the cars always rode upright. The first models featured recognizable cars (VW Beetle, 1930s hot rods, a dune buggy) and the second group got a bit wackier with an airplane, UFO and caveman in a hot tub. Weird indeed!

Mini Lindy

Mini Lindy camperAmong model car kits, Lindberg tends to fall a notch below more popular brands like AMT and Revell in terms of quality and detail. In the early ‘70s, they briefly hit it big with their Mini-Lindy series. Each kit was about 1/64 scale, although each car was scaled to take advantage of the same size wheels. So the AMC Gremlin looks giant compared to the School Bus. Priced at 79 cents a kit, and available in a rainbow of colors, these models were all the rage for a few years.

Imposters

aurora imposters vwAurora had been making a name for itself in model kits and slot cars for several years when they unleashed the Imposters series in the early ’70s. The short lived offshoot consisted of three mild mannered cars… A VW Beetle, A Ford Pinto, and a 1940 Willys Coupe. When these brightly colored cars were wound up, they would move slowly for a bit… and then the body popped up, the chassis extended, and the transmogrified dragster took off quickly. These were big and heavy (bigger than 1/18 scale) and pretty impressive to see in action.

Vatutin Electromechanical Toy Factory

Vatutin FerrariNothing remarkable about this brand, really… they made a series of crudely detailed 1/43 European cars with opening features. And they were never widely available in the U.S. But that company name… Wow!

Saratov Laboratory of Minimodels

SaratovAnother company probably most noteworthy for an amazing name. Their 1/43 models of Russian marques featured modest detail and lots of opening parts (all four doors on some sedans). In truth, this lab was really just concocting rehashes of other Russian brands, most notably Radon Models (also a great name!)

System I-Leg

System I LegIsn’t that the Lego logo? The billion dollar Danish company that makes plastic building toys? Yep. Before becoming the multimedia juggernaut they are today, Lego made a series of plastic and metal vehicles from HO to 1/43 scale. From 1955-1970, new offerings were all plastic, and approximately HO scale. None of them had a single element that allowed you to attach a Minifig, although their display cases did.

Wannatoy

WannatoysWannatoy? Of course you do! This company made incredibly simple plastic cars and trucks… A car might consist of a one part body and a pair of single piece wheel and axle assemblies. For something more elaborate, their “Bubble Top Coupe” included a fourth piece, the clear canopy.

VinylLine

Vinylline Mercury CougarHere’s another company that offered single piece bodied cars, but with more accurate detail and scaling than you usually see. And they made some desirable cars like the BMW 2500 and first generation Mercury Cougar. Color choices were odd (yellow wheels?) and they tended to warp, which is common for this kind of toy.

Shot Wheels

Shot Wheels

wacky packages shot wheels stickerSince the late 1960s, Topps has produced Wacky Packages, a series of stickers and cards that feature parodies of famous products, including “Shot Wheels” cars. (“Cheapest heaps in the world! Guaranteed to self destruct!”) The sticker only showed one model, the lemon-shaped “Lemlin,” but over the years, various customizers have built real models featuring punny twists on the names of real Hot Wheels cars (Squirting Image, Dead Baron, etc.). These were not just one offs, either… in some cases, the cars had a limited run of 300 or so produced models, selling for more than a lot of Super Treasure Hunts or other collector favorites. To people of a certain age, these are the perfect combination of nostalgia and snotty humor.

More Colorful Model Car Brands You Might Not Have Heard Of

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

A while ago, we shared a list of unusual Model Car Brands with strange histories. The response we got was terrific, so we did another list. Since then, we’ve dug up enough other odd brands to compile yet another batch of model and toy cars you may have forgotten (if you ever heard of them at all.) All in all, this round of models comes from seven different countries if you’re counting!

Dream Become True

Dream Become TrueNo, that’s not a typo, it’s just clunky translation. This company started as “Dream Become True”, possibly playing off Chinese auto company Build Your Dream. They then changed it to “Dream Becomes True” which is still kinda clunky. Their main offerings are Model Cars in 1/32 and 1/24 scale, which are fairly detailed and include working parts as well as lights and sounds.They also make some pretty basic models of mostly high end exotic cars in 1/64, including about the only model of the Koenigsegg CCX available and, even if the doors don’t open correctly.

Gay Toys

gay toys school busSimple, inexpensive toys molded in color… what could go wrong? The sheer coincidence of the name unfortunately became a headache for the company, (parental objections, etc.) so they didn’t produce many models under this brand. And well, when you try to do a search online for them, well, just make sure you keep “safe search” turned on. Even better, look for them on hobbyDB instead.

Quiralu

QuiraluQuiralu models were made in France in the 1950s and ’60s and included several microcars. The company and their models went into hibernation for many years until the original molds were resurrected in the late ’90s. They were used again to make a limited number of models with the same body castings but slightly different tinplate base and window glazing. The colors for each generation are often loud and fun.

Radon

radon model carThe name Radon probably doesn’t have any strange connotations in Russian like it does in other parts of the world. These cars are cold war relics, from a Russian state factory. They are mostly 1:43 scale diecast Soviet vehicles, including marques that aren’t likely to be reproduced in any other country. As a bonus, they do a lot of limos and other service vehicles, which are always neat to look at.

Rextoys

rextoysThis Portugal based company is best known for their models of 1930s American cars. Detail is simple, but the cars sometimes come with well-known passengers… You can get the Cadillac V16 Convertible with President Franklin D. Roosevelt riding in the back, or, if you prefer, Italian actress Cicciolina. But not together, even though that would be really awesome!

Simba

SimbaThey Farbwechsel when they Temperaturwechsel! Simba, despite the very elephantine name, was a German company that made mostly models of German marques. Their color change cars were revolutionary at the time, as they were among the first where the color depended on the temperature of the water.

Smelly Speeders

Maisto Smelly SpeedersSure, these look like standard Majorette models. Except they have some odd color combinations, especially the brightly colored tires. And when you open them, well, the reason for the name becomes obvious. Each car was scented in generally favorable aromas such as coconut or strawberry, not unlike those emanating from your car air freshener. Unfortunately, if you find one in the package, there’s a good chance the scent has worn off over the decades.

Tomte-Laerdal

Tomte-LaerdalStarting in the 1940s, this company produced primarily models of German cars but also one of an American military Jeep. Bodies were made of a single piece of rubbery plastic in a single color (some look kind of swirly) with a separate clear windshield in some cases. Details were crude at best. Later models mostly eschewed the clear parts for solid molded windows. Based on their Datsun 240Z model, it’s safe to say they were still making these at least into the early 1970s.

Starmada

StarmadaStarmada is fairly new to the model car business, debuting at the International Toy Fair in Nuremberg in 2009. They offer mostly European marques with a heavy emphasis on Mercedes-Benz. These are sold under the name Brekina in many countries. Two really neat things about them… they make a lot of odd body styles such as limousines and hearses. And if you can believe it from the photos, these cars are 1/87 scale, some of the most detailed cars you can get for an HO railroad.

Victory Industrial Products

Victory Industrial ProductsVictory Industrial Products or VIP was a small company that began its life during the second world war in a boat house which stood directly alongside Kingston Bridge in Hampton Wick near London. It was founded by two men, Captain William John Warren and Gerald Fenner Burgoyne who set up the company to manufacture small electrical components for the Ministry of Supply. Not quite nanotechnology, but the components were useful for making model trains, 1:20 plastic models and 1:32 slot cars. They were mostly odd, utilitarian cars, but charming in a huge way.

Do you have any favorite odd brands we haven’t covered in these articles yet? Let us know in the comments!

How Many Errors Can You Find In This Article?

error toys

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

We recently introduced you to Nathan Lill, the Master of Mistakes (at least when it comes to Hot Wheels). Lill has a collection of over 12,000 Hot Wheels error cars, all collected since he first spotted one on the pegs in 2000.

But what exactly constitutes an error for something like a diecast car on a blister card? Well, there are all kinds of things that can go wrong, some subtle, some hilariously obvious.  Packaging misadventures, assembly problems, or color and graphics misfires are among the most common. Most errors need to be inside a sealed package to be verifiable, but that’s not always the case. And in a lot of examples, the packaging itself is the actual source of the error.

hot wheels error custom vw beetle

A lot of Hot Wheels come with intentionally mismatched wheels. This Custom VW is not one of them.

Assembly issues such as mis-spun rivets are hard to fake, so packaging might not be as important in those cases. On the other hand, for really early Hot Wheels, there are some very subtle variations in coloring that were probably unintentional, but could also be attributable to fading or other factors, so who can tell? But for the most part, buyers need to be aware of what to look for.

Here’s a check list of common error types that make it past the QC inspectors. Aside from the issues with wheels, most of these errors can apply to other collectibles such as action figures and vinyl art toys. Some error types are common enough that we have special Subjects on hobby DB just for those!

hobbyDB hot wheels error

Misadventures in Packaging

hot wheels error

Pretty sure that’s not a ’57 Thunderbird!

  • Mismatched car and package (On hobbyDB, these should be listed as a variant of the car, not the blister card. If you get that wrong, hey, mistakes happen.)
  • Wrong Shaped Blister (with specific shapes for each car, it’s surprising this doesn’t happen more.)
  • Off-Register/Off Kilter Package Printing
  • Vehicle Facing Wrong Direction In Blister (Upside down doesn’t sometimes count, as it’s easy for some models to do a barrel roll.)

    hot wheels error

    Upside down cars may or may not be considered errors. Depends on how much wiggle room is in the blister.

  • Mis-Cut Packaging (Unpunched holes don’t really count as errors, but are usually considered more valuable on their own merit)
  • Empty Sealed Package (Check carefully in case of the Wonder Woman Invisible Jet.)

Wheel Errors

  • Missing Entire Axle and Wheels
  • Reversed Wheels
  • Unchromed/Unpainted Wheels
  • Mismatched Wheels (Hard to spot these days, as some cars intentionally look like that)
hot wheels error

With so many wheels, you’re bound to have the wrong wheels in the wrong place sometimes.

  • Wrong Size Wheels (Hard to spot sometimes without reference)
  • Wrong Wheel Type

Molding Messes

  • Incomplete Casting (Not enough material to fill the mold.)
  • Excessive Flashing (Too much material in the mold. Not from exposing oneself in the park!)

Assembly Gone Awry

  • Wrong Color Body/Interior/Chassis/Window (Disputable, could be a legit variant. A lot of Redlines came with these kinds of differences and are just about impossible to document.)
  • Mismatched Parts (Such as a Mustang body on a Camaro chassis. That is unnatural and should not be a thing. List this as the variant with which it shares the most parts)
hot wheels error

The baseplate on this K.I.T.T. is backwards. The Hoff must be fuming!

  • Backwards/Upside Down Parts (This mostly happens with the chassis)
  • Missing components (Engines, interiors, windows, etc.)
  • Unspun Rivets
  • Mis-spun Rivets

Graphic In Nature

It’s not that difficult to fake some of color and graphics errors, so most of these probably should be in sealed packages to confirm their validity. Make sure your mistakes are real miscues and not shenanigans!

hot wheels error

The Python is supposed to have a flat black roof. This one doesn’t, and it looks unmodified, but it’s not in the package. Hmmmm…

  • Completely Missing Graphics
  • Graphics Missing On One Side, Top, etc.
  • Misaligned Graphics
hot wheels error

The wheels aren’t the problem here… that’s intentional. But notice how the graphics are “falling off” the car.

  • Off-Register Graphics (One color does not line up with the others)
  • Misspelled Graphics (Technically, this isn’t an error of production, but a failure to proofread. But if it’s caught and fixed, the wrong version might be pretty valuable.)
hot wheels error

Early versions of the Baywatch Rescue Ranger misspelled “First Aid” on the side. It’s a rare “pre-production” error that was eventually fixed. Now The Hoff is really feeling hassled!

Something (But Not Everything) Else

  • Missing Accessories (Buttons, sticker sheets, extra parts, collector cards, etc.)
  • Incorrect Accessories
  • Extra parts

error johnny lightning riviera“Mistakes” That Aren’t Really Errors

alfred e neuman action figure

What me worry? Alfred E. Neuman action figures came in all kinds of messed up alignments.

  • Broken parts… Sad when it happens, but it’s not really an error to collectors.
  • Casting errors that lasted the entire production run. Hey, a Johnny Lightning White Lightning ’71 Buick Riviera with the wrong grill… That’s gotta be rare, right? Well, only as rare as any other White Lightning. JL made castings for the ’71 and ’71 Rivieras, the only difference being the detail in the grill. For the Classic Gold version, they called it a ’71, but used the ’72 casting. They never corrected it, so even though it’s a goof, it’s the only version.
  • Items designed to look incorrectly packaged (Upside down, backwards, etc). This Alfred E. Neuman figure is supposed to be upside down, which matches the spirit of the magazine. Same with the Santa version, who looks like he fell inside the blister. Oh, and Spider-Man, in the image at the top of the page? Yep, that’s on purpose as well!

Do you have any error cars (or action figures) in your collection? Add them to our database as variants of existing items! And if you can think of any other types of errors, hit us up in the comments section!

12 Superhero Toys That Are Super Hard To Explain

 

weird superhero toys

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

Superheroes have long been one of the most popular subjects for toys and collectibles, and why not? With a couple of action figures and a lot of imagination, anything is possible. Unfortunately, not everything that’s possible makes sense. Here are some of our, uhhh, favorite head-scratching superhero toys. If you have logical explanations for any of them, let us know in the comments!

Deadpool Duck LegoDeadpool the Duck – Is he a duck who thinks he’s Deadpool, or a Deadpool who thinks he’s a duck? Lego made an exclusive Duckpool (Deadduck?) minifig for the 2017 San Diego Comic Con, and he has since taken on other forms such as Funko Pops figures. Duckpool. This is really confusing, actually. Just accept it and move on.

Rocket Raccoon Mega ManRocket Raccoon vs. Mega Man Figures – Are they friends? Enemies? Frenemies? And what are they doing together since they’re from completely different copyrighted worlds? Well, there’s a new Marvel vs. Capcom video game, which is an extension of the arcade game that dates back to 1996. And the logical reason for that original mashup was, geez… like we said, hard-to-explain. The ‘90s were weirder than you remember.

guardians of the galaxy doritosGuardians of the Galaxy Doritos Bag With Built-in Walkman – Speaking of Rocket and friends, here’s a strange collectible. Few movies use their soundtracks as effectively as the Guardians movies, so it makes sense to offer an old-school cassette player filled with Star-Lord’s greatest hits. It even has lo-fi looking 1980s style headphones attached! Why it comes mounted in a bag of Doritos is anyone’s guess. Still, you know you want one.

spider bugy

sider mobile comic

Everyone hates the Spider-Mobile. Fans, artists, writers, Spidey himself…

Spider-Mobile/Dead Buggy – As we all know, Spider-Man gets around town pretty easily by slinging webs and swinging from building to building. And sometimes he takes the subway if needed. So what’s with the Spider-Mobile? It’s a dune buggy, which is cool, but doesn’t make a lot of sense in a major metropolitan area with no beach. It is canonical, having made several appearances in comic books, but always as the subject of ridicule. The joke came full circle when Hot Wheels made a must-have San Diego Comic Con exclusive model of it. Then things got even more meta when it was discovered that there was a chase version… If you were lucky, you might have opened the box to discover the Dead Buggy, “vandalized” by Deadpool.

huld copterHulk Copter – Hulk smash. Hulk throw things. Hulk struggle with socially acceptable motor control. So Hulk not good candidate for piloting helicopter. Or any vehicle, for that matter. But especially a helicopter.

corgi super mobile

Supermobile – If you’re faster than a speeding bullet and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, you don’t need a flying rocket car. Even if it has punching fists in side-mounted cannons. Even if it did actually appear in the comic books. In the time it takes to valet park that thing in Metropolis, Superman could be on the scene of any developing situation. And if he does need a ride, Batman probably owes him a favor, so he can call him. Nonetheless, Corgi made a model of it, a few different variants in fact. And there are some other neat toys if you search for “Superman plane” on hobbyDB.

hallmark flash aquaman

Aquaman with Batmobile

Aquaman waits for a ride in the Batmobile in “Justice League.”

Aquaman and Flash Cars – Not to keep harping on vehicles that have no reason to exist, but Aquaman doesn’t drive. At least he never seems to in the comics. Like Superman, he can hitch a ride in the Batmobile as needed. In fact, it appears that he does exactly that in the “Justice League” movie. As for Flash, he’s faster than any car will ever be, so the only time he might need one is if he goes to Costco on the weekend. And if he did shop in bulk, he probably would choose something more practical than a Corvette. They are adorable, though. These are part of the Squeely series of vinyl figures from Hallmark, so you can probably expect to see them in ornament form soon.

thor scooterThor Scooter – It’s The Mighty Thor. Riding a Vespa. A pink Vespa. This is non-canonical. This should not exist. The basis for this scooter is the Skiddo Scooter from Marx Toys, featuring a really scary looking Army soldier. Seriously, the other version is really weird looking!

batman superman squirt gunsBatman and Superman Squirt Guns – These are kind of strange… why would these guys go around spitting water on people? That’s really more of an Aquaman thing. But, hey, whatever. You could design a worse toy. Much, much worse…

Batman squirt gunAnother Batman Squirt Gun – No. NO! A THOUSAND TIMES, NO! This squirt gun is just wrong on so many levels, it’s impossible to count! In case you’re wondering, this does not appear to be an officially licensed toy (Need proof? The miscapitalization of “BatMan” on the label, the fact that he’s flying like Superman on that label, the fact that there is no way someone at DC would be dumb enough to authorize this… would they?) Amazingly enough, there was a similar Popeye version as well.

Got any other oddball superhero toys that we didn’t mention? Hit us up in the comments and add them to our database!

Majorette Moves to Become A Major Player in U.S. Market

majorette blister cardDiecast hunters at Toys R Us may have recently noticed a familiar old brand they haven’t seen in almost two decades. Majorette, which has not been sold in the U.S. since 1999, is making a comeback. “Toys R Us was looking to introduce a diecast line different from what all other mass retailers had,” said Brand Ambassador Andy Goodman. “Knowing the quality and longevity of the brand (it started in 1964) TRU worked with their parent company, Simba-Dickie Group, to strike a partnership to bring the very popular European brand back to U.S. collectors.”

majorette boxster challenger lamborghini

Many new Majorette models include opening doors or engine covers.

During their absence, Majorette made the move from toylike models to more of a collector brand. Their vehicles are in still in the 3-inch range, which is around 1/64. Scales vary for each one, and are still marked on the bottom of each model, a tradition for the brand. But they are now much more accurately proportioned and detailed than what you might remember from your youth.

Majorette Mercedes

Majorette’s diecast cars in the 1970s, such as this Mercedes 450 SE, had more toy-like proportions.

“I really think everything was toy like in the 60’s 70’s – not many people were collecting model cars back then,” said Goodman.  “Collectors were becoming a recognizable group with a presence in  ’80s and ’90s, and they wanted realistic replicas of their favorite and dream vehicles. Majorette noticed and began to deliver the accuracy the community was looking for.”

majorette subaru wrx

Majorette’s newer models, like this Subaru WRX STI, are more accurately scaled and detailed than their early efforts.

The brand has always been popular in Europe but never made the same impact in the States. Part of the reason was a lack of models based on American marques, which they have addressed lately. For the past several years, the Camaro, Ford F-150 and Mustang have been among their most popular cars. Their stable still includes less common models as the Audi A1, Mercedes G Wagon, and Jaguar F Type as a way to differentiate them from other diecast companies.

majorette f150 camaro

The relaunch includes more American marques such as the Ford F-150 and Chevy Camaro.

Collectors should appreciate the value of these models as well. They are designed to retail for around $3.49, but can often be found for even less in some stores. Not bad for models of this kind of quality.

As for upcoming plans, Majorette has signed on as a sponsor for the upcoming Diecast Hall of Fame awards, so attendees can experience their offerings up close. “Majorette also has a great partnership planned for 2018 with Toys R Us,” said Goodman. “You’ll see the launch of the internationally popular Dubai Police Line, their Vintage collection and a special raw collection that’s to debut in the U.S. market first.” Those are some welcome and major developments in the world of diecast.

Did you have a favorite Majorette model when you were a kid? Let us know in the comments!